On the same block in Midtown Kingston as the Ulster Performing Arts Center, on Broadway between Cornell and O’Neil Street, there’s an unassuming storefront that’s easy to pass by without realizing what treasures lie inside. A new LED-lit sign is currently being created to alert the neighborhood that what used to be called Ye Olde Book Shoppe has reopened as Rewind Kingston, with a new focus meant to appeal to a younger clientele: trendy thrift-shop fashion and upcycled clothing and gifts.
Oh, the books are still there: thousands of them, some displayed for sale in the rear of the store and many more stored in two back rooms and the basement. Current owners the Flood family – mom Joanne, dad Kevin and siblings Karlie, Jake and Sydney – inherited an enormous inventory when they purchased the building from its longtime owners, Joanne’s aunt and uncle, Mary and Rich Williams. The Williamses had opened the original Ye Olde Book Shoppe in Ulster Park and then relocated it to the space that is now the UPAC box office before ultimately moving across the street to 612 Broadway.
The Floods, Kingston natives who were then living in California, took an interest in buying out the bookshop when Aunt Mary died in 2019. Uncle Richie was ailing and their son didn’t want to take over the business. They had already gone to contract and were prepared to return to Kingston by the time of Richie’s passing in early 2020. And then COVID happened. They couldn’t reopen the store right away, so the Floods worked on renovations and thought about what sort of business they wanted it to be going forward.
Selling off some of the inventory helped keep the Floods afloat through the pandemic. “My aunt had thousands of Barbies. They were paying the bills on eBay,” recounts Joanne. “There were so many in mint shape in boxes.” They sold more than 1,500 items before opening the store, but collectors can still find unsold Barbie dolls and outfits in one of the storage rooms at Rewind.
But the real attraction lies up front. Only a few blocks’ walk from Kingston High School, Rewind is quickly becoming a Mecca for teens in search of stylish, affordable clothing. The primary buyer is sister Sydney, who currently lives in New York City, has a passion for “thrifting” and haunts “warehouses, last-chance places, eBay and auctions,” according to her mother. “The kids all love clothes. We used to do thrift pop-ups before we opened the store.”
The secondhand clothing all gets washed before it’s put on the racks. There are other displays of “dead stock”: new garments obtained at deep discounts, many of them creatively upcycled with screenprints, bleach, ice-dye and tie-dye, patches and other alterations. “All the stuff that’s new is sustainable,” says Joanne.
Prominently displayed in the front of the store are art prints, notecards, tees and other products featuring designs by sister Karlie. Her collages and poetry are published on an Instagram account called Reminders to My Future Self that reaches more than 16,000 followers (www.instagram.com/reminderstomyfutureself).
Another section of the store is a shrine to a daughter and sibling now present only in spirit, memory and inspiration: Cassidy Flood, who died in November 2020 while attending SUNY New Paltz and living off-campus. An outstanding student/athlete, highly sociable and normally “bursting with life,” in her mother’s words, Cass had recently been struggling with persistent depression and anxiety. She was also “impulsive” and may have been bipolar, though never formally diagnosed as such.
Both Cass and her family encountered tremendous difficulty in their efforts to secure appropriate mental health treatment for her during the pandemic, when most of the resources of healthcare facilities were focused on responding to the needs of patients dying from COVID. Social distancing policies kept her isolated from the peer-group emotional support she needed; SUNY students weren’t even allowed to visit friends in other dorms at the time. A brief sojourn as an inpatient in a psychiatric facility was a spectacular misfire: “She was scared of the other people in there. They were way sicker than her,” Joanne says.
Cass’ psychotherapists kept changing as she was shunted from one program to another, despite her mother’s relentless advocacy. “I do believe that every single person was trying very hard,” says Joanne. But what she describes as a “perfect storm” of loneliness and desperation came together on November 29. The toxicology report confirmed that Cass had taken all the medications she had on hand at one time: a fatal dosage. She was only 19 years old, and the overwhelmed US healthcare system had failed her.
The trauma of losing their cherished daughter and sister is a big part of the glue that holds the Flood family together in their shared vision to make Rewind something special that will feel especially welcoming to other young women like her. LoveCass, an entire line of products inspired by Cassidy’s life, philosophies and enthusiasms, fills and overflows a display along one wall of the shop. There are tee-shirts, hoodies and hats, totebags, water bottles, candles and other necessaries sporting the heart-shaped LoveCass logo. Joanne acquired a Cricket vinyl-cutter to make the stencils.
The Floods donate ten percent of all sales, and 100 percent for LoveCass collection items, to not-for-profit organizations that assist youths with mental illnesses. Their current favorite beneficiary is United We Om (www.unitedweom.org), which offers trauma-informed trainings in the use of yoga, meditation and breathwork to teachers and others who work with young people. This past March the family also organized a group fundraising “polar plunge” into the icy Hudson River on what would have been Cassidy’s 21st birthday. “Her friends just came. It was a real community. Two girls came all the way from California for the plunge.” The final tally: $16,000 raised in donations from about 50 participants.
Another such event may be in the works for the winter of 2023, but in the meantime, the Floods want Rewind to become a sort of community hub for young people who may also be struggling with psychological challenges. There’s a list of resource links on the website (www.rewindkingston.com), and the family is planning to create a display of books and journals related to mental health. Or you might simply want to pop in there to check out the cute clothes, the stocking-stuffers, the affordable art, the die-cut recycled metal holiday ornaments, the books or the Barbies.
Rewind Kingston is located at 612 Broadway. It’s closed Monday through Wednesday and open from 3 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, 2 to 5 p.m. on Friday and noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Find it on Facebook at www.facebook.com/people/Rewind-Kingston/100054361939435 and on Instagram at @rewindkingston.
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